(Closed) I don't feel like a professional

posted 5 years ago in Career
Post # 2
334 posts
Helper bee

Every career is like that.

I had a harsh shock when I came out as a fully qualified, admitted lawyer and spent 6 months stapling court files and making coffee. 

Having a degree and experience doesn’t always guarantee success. What is important is that YOU set a goal for youself. 

You will never feel like a ‘professional’ in your field until you know what that means to you. Perhaps, in your field, you may need further education. It seems that your degree is very narrow in its focus.

Just keep hanging in there and it will eventually get better – as long as you love what you’re doing. 



Post # 3
623 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2016

It’s definitely a fake it til you make it type of thing at first. Like PP, I came out of school with two master’s degree and a CPA license (public accounting) and ended up filing papers, making coffee runs and staying at work til 9pm just to give the appearance that I was busy but really had nothing to do. I saw that period as “doing my time”, which is what I think you’re doing now. Now at 30, I’ve settled into a great 8:30-5 job in a niche that I grew to love over the years and plays off my strengths. It took quite a few years but I feel valuable and like I contribute something, which was my original goal regardless of what field I went into. I just wanted to be able to bring something to the table and I wanted my company to suffer without me. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure my career will change and grow in different ways over the years like it already has so who knows what I’ll be doing in 5, 10, 20 years. You kinda have to go where your heart and your gut tugs you but until then, keep doing your time. You’re doing the right thing!

Post # 5
4238 posts
Honey bee

Kelly6871:  +1


Yes, this happens to many professionals. Grunt work comes with the territory and some industries or work teams make you “pay your dues” for longer than others. And some businesses are run in such a way that they won’t dedicate sufficient labor costs to outsource the grunt work, so the practicioner is always going to do some filing or make the coffee. Their circus, their monkeys.

Hang in there. Just my $0.02.


Post # 6
4028 posts
Honey bee

To be honest, while I have had “professional” positions for the past 5 years and I have done my fair share of grunt work. Between taking minutes for meetings, making copies, running errands, picking up lunch to grabbing coffee for the CEO. Even when I moved into a Director position, I was still doing tasks that felt like I was a an intern or a secretary at times (nothing against secretaries, but that’s not my position).

I just recently got offered a position that will be a huge change as far as my professional career (managing 50 people). But even when I assume that role, I still expect to do some random things that feel like I am an intern at times. ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 8
2347 posts
Buzzing bee

Equine_Breeder:  I’m in a totally different field than you so I don’t know if any of my advice applies. I graduated from college in 2008 right before the crash so I worked minimum wage service jobs for a couple of years before getting what was basically a glorified receptionist position. 

In my experience, getting ahead has been about “faking it till you make it”, so to speak. The thing is, it’s not really “faking” it all the way, it’s getting people to believe in your abilities and then quickly teaching yourself what to do. A project came up at my last job to implement a huge and complex software system. I studied writing in college but I also worked at my school’s IT help desk. While I pretty much just answered phones it was something to go on. I volunteered to help out and they gave me a set of 6 huge manuals. I literally just read them all (no one else even bothered to crack them) and suddenly I knew more about this new system than anyone else. Within 3 years I was making double the salary I started at and I ended up being a software admin and trainer. 

I think a lot of it is about putting yourself out there and just jumping in. I think women, moreso than men, can have a tendency to keep their heads down and just do a great job rather than asking for more. Any time I had a free moment I’d ask my boss, “hey, is there anything else I can do?”, “I have time for another project if you have anything!” When they gave me bigger more professional projects I was vocal, “I’d love to do more projects like this!”, “This was a really fun project to work on!” that kind of thing. 

If I were you (and I knew anything about your field, which I do not) I’d maybe go to my supervisor and say, “hey, I love working here but I feel like I’m not learning how to do x,y, and z because of the hours I work. Is there any way I can learn this by putting in extra hours/switching shifts/some other thing?”

I find that employers will do a lot to keep a hard worker. Sometimes they just don’t know you want more and have more ambition if you don’t really make it clear. 

Post # 10
656 posts
Busy bee

swonderful:  This is great career advice in general, you hit the nail on the head!

Post # 11
6890 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011


Equine_Breeder:  Here is the thing and please do not take it the wrong way.  But if feels like (I am 41 so a different generation) that many young people feel like they are entitled to start where they think they should be at when they graduate college.  When that is not the norm.  You have to start at the bottom and work your way up in no matter what you do. So you start with the grunt work and in a few years you maybe where you want to be.  That is just how it works in the real world.  We all can’t start where we want without the experience.  Collge classwork/internships are completely different than everyday life for a job


Post # 12
4028 posts
Honey bee

Equine_Breeder:  Honestly, I don’t feel 100% prepared. It’s a bit of a leap of faith on my part and the organizations. I am fortunate to have a few great mentors and I am going through a transition process. Sometimes, you learn as you go.

Post # 13
1311 posts
Bumble bee

Honestly I think this is true for many careers. I worked in retail after graduation and my manager did ‘office’ work about 75% of the time; the other 25% was doing sales associate type things (cashier, dressing room, etc).

Post # 14
3007 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

Sassygrn:  I totally agree! The reason is that my parents and teachers/professors are so out-of-touch with reality that they have drilled it into our heads that we will definitely get a 50K+ job straight out of college. It took me an entire year to find full-time work out of college, and the whole time, my retired father asked me “What is wrong with you? I got a great job within weeks of graduation!” The world has changed since then. 

I think that working professionals helped me adjust my expectations re: where I should be in 1, 5, 10 years. Just be patient but open to new experiences and you will develop the skills you need to move on up in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

To be honest, I also don’t feel like a real adult. I think confidence only comes from time. 

Post # 15
1344 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2019

I can really empathize with the whole having great expectations for yourself.

I left college with kind of a big head because I went to a small school and, not to inflate myself too much, I was very well-respected in the program (design) and got very good scholarship money thanks to the professor putting in good words for me. My professors had filled my head with the idea that an agency would snap me up and I’d be making 40k right away.

It was a huge wake up call trying to apply for jobs for seven straight months and getting completely iced out by agencies. After I graduated I was kind of bummed out that the only place that wanted to hire me was a wholesale company in a tiny town an hour and a half away to work on their print promotionals. And I took it, and I worked hard, really hard, because I realized that this company was taking a chance on a kid fresh out of college with not very much ‘real’ experience, and I made myself as valuable as possible. I took it upon myself to learn as much as possible even when I had no idea what I was doing.

Put a giant publication through print from start to finish with no experience? Sure. Create a presentation for a team of salesmen and present it in two days? You got it.

I used my first job out of school as an opportunity to develop a close rapport with the people there and made myself loyal to them, so much so, that when I decided to move to Atlanta (with my now ex-FI) I telecommuted with my replacement for a month to make sure I was leaving the company in good hands. Unfortunately all of my plans fell through, and I had to move back five months later, and I called up the same company to ask if they had any freelance work and they (happily) took me back nearly full-time on contract.

Six months later I work remotely for them from my hometown and manage a few other clients from my home office in addition to this company. Working freelance was always a far flung dream for me in the future (in five or six years maybe) but now it’s a reality.

TL;DR I know it sounds obvious, but learn as much as you can and work hard and make yourself invaluable at the job you have and I promise it can pay off one way or another for you.

The topic ‘I don't feel like a professional’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors